Have you ever really thought about your expectations?
Our peace and happiness are inversely proportional to our expectations. Our peace and happiness are directly related to how many expectations we insist on keeping. Think about all the ways you might be disappointed by the people who don’t meet those expectations. Do you see how those people hold the key to much of your happiness and peace? Do you think it might be time to take that powerful key back?
I’ve heard it said that “expectations are premeditated resentments.” Any time our peace or happiness depends on another person’s behavior, we’re giving them the power to, at the very least, disappoint us and maybe hurt us. When we have expectations for ourselves and others, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and probably resentment too.
What Are Expectations?
Expectations are about “what I want” in terms of my and other people’s behavior. “Expectations” are another name for the “should’s” that we apply to ourselves and others. All of our expectations are under our control.
Sometimes our expectations are realistic, but often they’re not, and they may also be tied to our perceived value or worth as a person.
Having expectations for others without communicating about them first is the same as expecting them to MIND READ. We may assume that people in our daily lives will “just know” what we want or need at any given time. If they know us if they LOVE us, shouldn’t they JUST KNOW? We assume they know our expectations. Not only do we expect that people will automatically know what we want, but we assume that they’ll automatically do the things to meet our expectations too. When they don’t know the expectations and don’t meet them, we get resentful. How ridiculous is that? How fair is that to them?
When we grow up in a toxic environment, we may expect that “bad things” will always be part of our experience. We may become adults who expect the worst or live in fearfulness. Those are not healthy or pleasant expectations to hold. Instead, we can examine these expectations to see when we’re unrealistic, and if we change our attitudes about what to expect, it will change our life. If we practice awareness with our expectations, we’re less likely to be disappointed, angry, or resentful when they’re not met.
If we’re using words like “never” and “always” when we talk about our expectations, it indicates that it’s an unreasonable expectation. Having unrealistic or unreasonably high expectations can lead to resentment. When expectations are unrealistic, they’re often based on fear. Conversely, having low expectations can lead to disappointment. Sometimes we purposefully, and maybe unconsciously, set low expectations in hopes of avoiding disappointment.
Sometimes we’re not sure whether our expectations are appropriate. It can be a good idea to ask someone whose integrity you respect to see what they think. Sometimes another perspective can be very helpful.
Here’s the thing: if we practice detaching from outcomes, our fears and resentments begin diminishing.
We’re always changing, and our expectations need to be flexible and able to change too.
- Examine your expectations. Are they realistic? How do you know? How can you change that?
- How important is this expectation? Is it worth sleepless nights? Is it worth feeling anger, hurt feelings, or resentment? How important is it really?
- Let others be who they are. Notice how this feels. Is it pleasant? Why or why not?
- Let go; detach. Let go of what people say or didn’t say, or what they did or didn’t do. Let go of outcomes. Let go of the expectations.
- Make the goal a process of progress.
- Affirmation: “I focus on progress, not perfection.”
- Trust the process.
Here’s to all of our continued emotional growth and prosperity!
You may also like these resources:
Learn about the Cycle of Abuse
Learn about setting boundaries
Learn about codependency and maladaptive coping skills
Self-care: We can only choose to focus on and be responsible for ourselves, our own thoughts, actions, and behavior. We can take responsibility for getting our needs met, instead of waiting for someone to change or meet our needs for us. We are in control of ourselves and no one is responsible for us but us. We can change ourselves with patience, persistence, and practice.
Conscious awareness: Be aware and make conscious choices before acting. Self-awareness releases us from making impulsive and potentially damaging decisions. Practice mindfulness.
Learn about letting go of what you can’t control, by using loving-detachment
Lemon Moms: Resources to guide you in healing from childhood trauma, abuse or neglect. Available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. (Kindle, Audiobook and paperback format.)
About the author
Diane Metcalf earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1982 and a Master of Science in Information Technology in 2013.
She has held Social Worker, Counselor and Managerial Positions in the fields of Domestic Violence and Abuse, Geriatric Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Reproductive Health. She is an experienced Advocate and Speaker on the topics of Domestic Violence and Abuse and has been a guest on Lockport Community Television (LCTV), sharing her knowledge and experience regarding Domestic Abuse with the local community. In addition, she experienced Maternal Narcissistic Abuse and has been involved in other toxic relationships. She purposefully learned (and continues to learn) appropriate coping skills and strategies to live happily. She shares those insights here.
Her book and articles are the results of her education, knowledge, and
personal insight regarding her own abusive experiences and subsequent recovery work. She is no longer a practicing Social Worker, Counselor, Program Manager or Advocate, nor is she or has she ever been a licensed psychologist.
Currently, Diane runs her own website design company, Image and Aspect, and writes articles and tutorials for Tips and Snips, her inspirational blog for creative people. She continues to learn and write about emotional healing and has authored three books in the “Lemon Moms” series. Visit her author’s website here.
This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional therapy.